30 April 2007

Is Australian Fashion Week and Rosemount on the same catwalk?

This year naming rights for Australian Fashion Week have gone to Rosemount Estate Wines, but is there might be a perceived misalignment between the two brands.

With Mercedes surrendering rights to Rosemount, DIFFUSION would have thought that there would have been a natural synergy between the brands as there was with its predecessor's long association.

Sure, Rosemount positions itself in the US and other markets as "The Prestige Wine of Australia" or so it's 2006 website proclaims and Australian Fashion Week, under the aegis of Simon Lock and now IMG, has successfully grown a new fashion event brand in a highly competitive but small market.

But anyone taking a trip down to their local liquor store or bottle shop will see that the "Prestige Wine of Australia" sells for less than $10 in its country of origin.

While for some this might indicate a high level of accessibility for a great wine, "prestige" and low prices seem somewhat incongruous with an international event that has helped launched the careers of such notable Australian designers as Colette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Sass and Bide and Tsubi/Ksubi.

Rosemount might be repositioning, and this is understandably a long process that requires years of work, but the Fosters' owned brand also needs to translate its brand and marketing efforts to the product side, particularly in the Australian market. Sponsorships and naming rights are usually local affairs and work best when there is a perceived and actual alignment between the brand and the sponsor, not when it's merely exercising a proposition and a tagline. Even Rosemount's website makes no mention of Australian Fashion Week, an embarrassing oversight and yet another indication that the brand doesn't appear to have its brand and marketing act together in Australia.

Locally any brand that can offer itself to consumers at a range of price points below $10 (Rosemount's Diamond Range) and up to $30 for it's sparkling is not really competing with the likes of Grange or Giaconda or estates like Cape Mentelle, Domaine Chandon or Cullen.

For IMG and Australian Fashion Week, it will need to work harder to convince people that their names are synonymous, particularly as Mercedes remains a sponsor for other international events, particularly in the US. There's no details on the monetary cost of naming rights for the even but it's obviously a lucrative arrangement as the cost of showing skyrockets and major fashion names decline to appear.

Hopefully, Australian Fashion Week invitees will be supping on some of Rosemount's more pricier vintages.